Carthage, IL – The Illinois State Superintendent of Education has approved a vote on converging three Hancock County school districts. The issue of forming a single high school district will be on the March primary ballot. Committee of Ten member Pat Dietrich says informational meetings will be scheduled in Dallas City, LaHarpe and Carthage to explain the goals to the public. The group is recommending the almost 500 student high school begin operations in Carthage with the use of temporary classrooms.
Fort Madison, IA – The upcoming budgeting process in Lee County could include a change in health insurance plans. Lee County currently uses a self-funded health plan. That means the county takes the risk of paying for claims out of its own insurance fund, instead of paying for premium-based insurance coverage. The Lee County Board of Supervisors has authorized Supervisors Joe Kowzan and Bob Woodruff to look into the benefits of a premium based plan. Kowzan says the board wants to find the best insurance option at the best price for the county.
Des Moines, IA – Two Southeast Iowa lawmakers says the legislature could accept many of the Governor's proposals during the 2006 session. State Representative Dave Heaton says the Governor's Condition of the State speech, while not specific, did include several initiatives he could get behind. The Mount Pleasant Republican says he supports increasing teacher salaries, expanding economic development, and providing more benefits for war veterans. Heaton says the one proposal that faces the toughest challenge is the increase in the tobacco tax, especailly with an election year ahead.
Macomb, IL – An attempt to shift 16 students into the Macomb school district will get another hearing before the regional school board. A circuit judge directed the petitioners to change their petitions to include the newly-formed Schuyler-Industry school district as part of their comparisons. He also said the original petitioners must sign the amended petition. The regional board approved the detachment in a hearing last summer. It also upheld its decision when the issue was remanded to it earlier. No date has been set for the third hearing.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk School District has recieved some interest in the Old Middle School property along Main Street. Local businessman Jon Warren has offered the district $200,000 for the nearly 2 blocks of property. Business Manager Greg Reynolds says Warren wants to turn the site into a recreational center. The school board has countered with an offer of $750,000, which is lower than the original price tag of nearly $865,000. School Board President Julia Logan says the district has to consider many factors when it sells this property.
Macomb, IL – Macomb City Administrator Mike Hays is recommending a hike in the telecommunications tax. Right now, the tax is 2%, but Hays believes it should be increased to 6%, which is the maximum allowed by the state. Hays says the city has made budget cuts for at least a decade. He thinks Macomb now needs to find more money in order to remain competitive with similar cities. Hays says Macomb faces rising costs for salaries, health insurance, and a host of other expenses. A 6% tax would generate $465,000 per year. The current 2% tax brings in $155,000.
Macomb, IL – Western Illinois University is now in a position to begin developing its new campus in the Quad Cities. The state says it will release more than $2 million to pay for the architectural and engineering plans for renovating the building on the site. The total cost of renovating the building is estimated to be around $15 million. The 20-acre riverfront site was donated to WIU by John Deere & Company. The new campus could eventually contain three buildings and serve at least 3,000 students. That's more than double the capacity at the current campus in the Quad Cities.